Accelerating Research for EGFR-Positive Lung Cancer
As many of you know, I co-founded the patient group the EGFR Resisters in 2017 to improve outcomes for EGFR-positive lung cancer through support, education, and accelerating research. I’d like to share both a major accomplishment our group has achieved and a new opportunity we have to work towards improving outcomes for those of us living with EGFR-positive lung cancer.
EGFR Resisters supporting lung cancer research
Despite high response rates to Tagrisso, patients almost always develop disease growth known as resistance because the cancer figures out a way to get around the EGFR targeted therapy. There are a number of different things that can happen to cause such resistance. In the EGFR-positive lung cancer patient community, there is a major need for new treatments to prevent and/or treat resistance.
New funding for treatment advancements
As a grassroots, patient-directed, and patient-driven organization, the EGFR Resisters partnered with the non-profit lung cancer advocacy group, LUNGevity Foundation, to find and fund the most promising post-Tagrisso research. In 2020-2021, the EGFR Resisters raised over $400,000 in order to award $200,000 to each of the following investigators for 2-year projects.
Christine Lovly, MD, PhD
Dr. Lovly and her team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN will focus on analyzing tumor cells that might still be present in patients with lung cancer even after a response to Tagrisso. These cells are called drug-tolerant persister cells (DTPCs) because they survive while other cells disappear as a result of treatment. These cells might go to sleep for a while but then start to grow again, leading to resistance. Dr. Lovly will look at ways either to treat these cells upfront in order to stop resistance before it occurs and/or to overcome resistance once it occurs.
Helena Yu, MD
Dr. Yu and her team from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York NY will focus on one of the mechanisms of resistance to Tagrisso that has proven difficult so far to treat. When diagnosed, EGFR+ lung cancer is usually a form of non-small cell cancer known as adenocarcinoma. However, in some cases, the cancer “transforms” from adenocarcinoma to a different form of lung cancer after treatment with Tagrisso. This transformation can occur into small cell lung cancer or squamous cell lung cancer. Typically, additional mutations can be identified upfront that indicates a chance that this transformation might occur, such as a mutation in TP53 and RB1. However, further work is needed in order to understand why not all EGFR+ lung cancers with TP53 and RB1 mutations transform and how to prevent and/or treat transformation when it occurs.
A new research partnership with Lung Cancer Research Foundation
The EGFR Resisters is in the position to create project-based collaborations with numerous organizations in order to accelerate research and bring together the EGFR positive lung cancer community.
Now that we have fully funded our Research Award Program collaboration with LUNGevity Foundation, the EGFR Resisters is thrilled to announce a new multi-year research partnership with Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF)! LCRF is a large non-profit lung cancer advocacy organization based in New York whose mission is to improve lung cancer outcomes by funding research for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of lung cancer.
For 2021, we have the opportunity to partner with LCRF to find and fund a new two-year $150,000 research project related to EGFR positive lung cancer. LCRF will match the money the EGFR Resisters raise dollar for dollar, so we only need to raise $75,000 to make a difference!
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